First Capacity Building Forum of IPBES – “Opportunities for aligned investments in ecological knowledge for sustainable development”

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), established in 2012, is an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations. The members are committed to building IPBES as the leading intergovernmental body for assessing the state of the planet’s biodiversity, its ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society.

Aiming at strengthening the science-policy interface more broadly, IPBES seeks to address current asymmetries in knowledge and capacities across the world by identifying and prioritizing regional and national needs for capacity development. The mandated functions of IPBES Capacity Building Task Force include catalysing technical and financial support for capacity-building activities through multilateral cooperation.

The first IPBES Capacity Building Forum “Opportunities for aligned investments in ecological knowledge for sustainable development” was held from 19-22 October 2015 at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun. The forum deliberated on other issues relevant to the IPBES priority capacity building needs, such as the overall capacity building strategy requirements and experiences of institutions and networks involved in capacity building, and the IPBES assessment fellowship programme. An important focus of the event was the development of a web-based matchmaking facility to support the mobilization and alignment of financial and technical resources. The meeting highlighted existing experiences of projects and networks and how the matchmaking facility could further strengthen the longer term taskforce activities, linking with these existing active networks. The meeting also discussed different funding sources and how to it can be ensured that capacity building needs are addressed in a time-bound manner. The aim of the prototype is to pilot the contact between those who need financial or technical support, and those in a position to provide it.

Participants included the IPBES secretariat, capacity building and other taskforce representatives, members from various technical support units (TSU) of IPBES, UN agencies, multilateral and national donor representatives, and other stakeholder groups and agencies from various networks and NGOs. UNU-IAS was represented by Unni Payyappalli, Suneetha Subramanian, and Kazuhiko Seriyu. Abdhesh Gangwar from RCE Srinagar and Mohammed Ataur Rahman from RCE Greater Dhaka also attended the four day event.

Unni Payyappalli showcased the two networks ProSPER.Net and the global RCE network coordinated by UNU-IAS and their relevance in the context of strengthening IPBES capacity building activities and other work programmes. The presentation was based on earlier discussions how IPBES and the RCE network can collaborate on capcity building on policy support tools and methodologies. The global network of RCEs suggested becoming a pilot programme for capacity building activities on policy support tools and methodologies, identified by IPBES to address the loss and sustainable use of biodiversity. Working with RCEs would allow building the capacity of a broad range of stakeholders and practitioners in IPBES work programmes as a holistic approach.

A one day field visit titled ‘capacity building in practice’ was held on 21 October and included an introduction to an impressive array of activities of the Wildlife Institute of India. This outing was followed by a guided visit to the Rajaji Tiger Reserve and the Jhimli Jheel Conservation Area.

The meeting was a good opportunity to initiate capacity building activities for some RCE members. Participants became familiar with the concept and the practical dimensions of IPBES.  The proposal is to organize two capacity building workshops for RCE network members in 2016/2017, which will be further discussed in detail during the IPBES plenary in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 22-28 February, 2016.

Photos of the event can be found on facebook.